Wyoming House Representative, Cynthia Lummis, voted against the Violence Against Women Act yesterday, citing “Constitutional infirmities” for her lack of support.
Wyoming Public Media reports Lummis heard concerns from both Wyoming law enforcement officials and members of the Wyoming bar, stating provisions in the VAWA allow tribal courts to arrest and prosecute non-Natives who are accused of abusing Native women on reservations.
The possible imprisonment of non-natives by tribal courts is a major sticking point, especially when the Department of Justice reports more than 85 percent of violent crimes against Indian women are committed by non-Indians.
Though the bill permits non-natives to move their cases to federal court if they don't feel their Constitutional rights are being upheld, Lummis said she felt the bill needs to be refined.
The bill was also rejected by Wyoming senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso for the same reason. Republicans in the House of Representatives had introduced an alternative version of the bill that did not expand tribal judicial oversight, but that version failed.
Other components of the Violence Against Women Act establish resources for victims of gender-based violence, and expands protections for victims of violence related to gender identity.
Despite rejection from all three Wyoming Congressional representatives, the bill was passed and now goes to the President.
To read an opinion piece on the VAWA from WyoFile, click here.